Thailand to set up master plan for water management
THAILAND is to set up a central command for water management after floods late last year caused an estimated 1.42 trillion baht (45 billion dollars) in damage, the prime minister said on Friday.
Premier Yingluck Shinawatra outlined the country’s master plan for coping with future floods but did not set a date for when the central command would be established or provide details of its structure.
“In the short term, the goal is to decrease the level of damage from possible floods in 2012,” Yingluck said. “In the long term, the goal is to improve the flood management system in an integrated and sustainable manner.” A lack of coordination between the dozen state agencies responsible for water resources was blamed, in part, for last year’s floods.
Plans to avoid a repeat of the disaster include spending 3 billion baht on improved warning systems, 60 billion baht on reforestation, 60 billion baht on developing water retention areas and 177 billion baht on building flood ways to divert water to the sea.
Floods inundated the central plains and parts of Bangkok in October and November, claiming 636 dead.
The floods were caused by unusually heavy rainfall during the monsoon season that raised reservoir levels to their limit, forcing authorities to unleash water into the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the central plains and Bangkok en route to the sea.
The floodwaters inundated seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces, shutting down hundreds of factories in the automotive and electronics sectors for which central Thailand is a production hub.
The disruption raised questions among foreign investors about the country’s viability as a manufacturing base.
“Geographical diversification was the lesson learned from all this,” said Christopher Burton, director of Dataconsult Ltd, which advises foreign investors in Thailand.
“Companies are now more thoughtful of where they source their parts from so if Thailand gets inundated again you can buy from Brazil, and I don’t think a water management plan is going to change that.”